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Archive for Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Chiefs win when Martyball shelved

Edwards takes upper hand in fourth quarter

October 25, 2006

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Chiefs fans should have seen it coming.

Kansas City and San Diego were tied at 27 with just over five minutes to play, and the two coaches had a history of conservative play calling and clock-management mishaps. It was just a matter of who would go for the kill.

Anyone who's seen Chargers skipper Mary Schottenheimer coach a few close games should've known it wasn't going to be him. Kansas City backup quarterback Damon Huard sliced through San Diego's defense, setting up the game-winning field goal with three passes in under half a minute.

Schottenheimer out-Martyballed his former assistant.

The baffling part is Herm Edwards' willingness to abandon Martyball and open up the offense when Kansas City got the ball on its own 18 with 33 seconds left.

Rewind a couple hours. The Chiefs have the ball on their own 37-yard line with 1:02 left in the first half. More time, fewer yards, and Edwards calls two ill-fated draws up the middle.

"I've got a sleeping giant down right now," the Chiefs coach said at Tuesday's news conference. "I don't want to wake him up. I don't need to do that. That's how I want to play football."

So why the change philosophy in the fourth quarter? Why not play for overtime? With that philosophy, why pit your backup quarterback against the league's best defense, featuring chemically enhanced linebacker Shawne Merriman?

Maybe he saw that the middle of the field would be open for Huard to attack. Maybe he knew Schottenheimer would foolishly try to cover Tony Gonzalez with one defender.

Or maybe he smelled blood. Larry Johnson, whose knee-popping cut to the sideline on the drive's first play proved crucial, sure did.

"In the third and fourth quarters," the running back said after the game, "we knew we weren't going to fail."

That attitude has developed during the last couple weeks, Edwards said.

"This game was similar to the Denver game, for me," he said Sunday, comparing Sunday's victory to a Week 2 loss. "We were tied up, had a chance to win and against Denver, we didn't. This time we did. That's something we can grow on."

He elaborated at Tuesday's presser.

"Same team. Same Players. Different mindset," he said. "That's what you do as a coach. You tell them this will happen again. Like I've told them: if I tell you it's Easter today, go start coloring your eggs."

Ridiculous metaphors notwithstanding, the coach has a point. And if his players buy in - and he keeps attacking when the game is on the line - he's already got a leg-up on one-time mentor Schottenheimer.

Does Mark Mangino have Herm's phone number?

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